What kind of training do you do before a big race?
The last week is very easy and moderate. I do only 3-4 hours of easy rolling per day, then take two days off completely, until I go for a short but fast ride the day before the start. 1 hour with some attacking and sprinting, to wake up your legs again the day before the BIG day.
What do you eat the day before a long distance race?
Nothing. I just drink my liquid nutrition beginning 3 days before the start. The body needs to get used to that, and your digestive system should get “clean”.
How frequently do you get your body massaged during big events?
Surprisingly not a lot. My physiotherapist always does a great job, so it is enough to have a light massage during the sleep breaks. If the pain increases, he uses tapes. But this also differs from person to person. I realised that I need fewer therapy sessions each time I do RAAM because the body eventually adapts to it.
How frequently do you monitor the numbers when you are attempting a big event?
I look at my power meter and my Watts very often. I like that, I like numbers, they motivate me to push harder. But this is because I train a lot with numbers. Some people hate to see their wattage go down. But I push myself to get the wattage up again.
How do you select your crew?
Selecting the perfect crew can take years. During the small races in the beginning of my career, I started with friends and cycling colleagues, in the following years, the crew got bigger. I tried to find a coach, a sports doctor, a physio-therapist from among friends of my crew. That ensured, that they’re familiar with each other.
What is the number of miles you should ride with your crew to get in sync with them?
Depends on the grade of experience of your individual crew members. But more
the miles, the better it is. It is ideal to do some ultra races with the same
crew. It is more stressful to your crew during a race than it is while
training, this lets everybody get familiar and better at their job.
How do you manage crew dynamics?
Show them that they have a lot of responsibility and express your gratitude. Have a lot of fun, catch up regularly and have a good time together. One of the crew must be the crew-chief who takes decisions. Listen to him and do not argue. If you think you know better, then you have the wrong crew chief, or you have too big an ego. Either way, it’s a problem.
What do you do to trick your mind into going the extra mile?
Your crew or you could reward yourself after completing that painful next mile. It could be in the form of a message or phone call from your girlfriend (if she is at home following you via tracking), or a piece of your favourite meal, or whatever it is that would make you happy. A tired mind of an ultra cyclist is like a small child. Offering you a piece of chocolate can help in really motivating you.
In my case, I also like to hear about the race standings. If I know about the standings or the fact that I closed the gap to the leader (or grow the gap to the followers), this is great for me.
Keeping your feet pain-free during these races sounds like quite a challenge?
This could be a problem for certain racers, but luckily not for me. I know some cyclists, who get irritated nerves on the soles of their feet after hours or days of cycling. If your nerves run close to the surface, you’re more prone to problems than if your nerves have a convenient course.
If you suffer from nerve irritation on your sole, using special foot beds in your shoe may help. My personal challenge are my hands and fingers. I often suffer from numb and stiff fingers. They feel like pins and needles, it’s due to the nerves in my forearms and wrists.
What type of socks do ultra cyclists use?
No idea… I use ordinary cycling socks. However, It’s a good idea to change them regularly and avoid the smell. I mean ultra cycling is a great challenge for the body, mind and crew – but the socks are not too important…
TO BE CONTINUED…
Editor: Tracy Alvares
Special Thanks: Christoph Strasser